Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs
reviewed by Anna M. Ortiz & Brenda S. Estrada - July 02, 2018
Title: Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs
Author(s): Jerlando F. L. Jackson, Lavar J. Charleston, & Cornelius K. Gilbert (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681237652, Pages: 438, Year: 2017
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Jerlando Jackson describes a Festschrift as a time honored academic tradition that recognizes the retirement of a noted and celebrated scholar by other scholars contributing original work to a volume dedicated to the honoree (p. 5). Advancing Equity and Diversity in Student Affairs is a tribute to Dr. Melvin C. Terrell, a leader in student affairs since 1974. Over the course of his career he received many of the most prestigious awards in the field, served as a the President of the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals, and authored more than 30 published works. He was one of the first African Americans to serve as Vice President of Student Affairs at a predominantly white institution (PWI) and provided many innovations for the success of African American college students. This volume honors his legacy through a historical account of the development of the student affairs profession in relation to Dr. Terrells career; through presenting current scholarship that provides recommendations for practice in recruitment, retention, and graduation of minoritized students; and through identifying strategies to support administrators of color in the field of student affairs. Jackson, Charleston, and Cornelius have assembled many of the most significant African American scholars in higher education as chapter authors, many of whom have known Dr. Terrell as a mentor and role model.
The volume is organized into five major sections. The first two are devoted to a biographical account of the career and impact of Dr. Terrell. The authors recount his career within the historical context of the field of student affairs. Particular attention is paid to his contributions to African Americans in higher education, student support programs that center on the success of diverse college students, professional associations in student affairs, and his contributions to higher education scholarship. In a later chapter, author John Schuh asserts that Dr. Terrell has earned the designation of a true scholar-practitioner by emphasizing his ability to produce substantial scholarship while achieving progressively higher leadership positions.
After the deep dive into the life and career of Dr. Terrell, the book shifts to research-oriented chapters on student outcomes and experiences. This third section could have benefitted from an introduction that more explicitly described the connections between the studies presented in the chapters and Dr. Terrells own scholarship in order to better situate them as part of the Festschrift. The chapters in this section regarding hate speech, hate crimes, and regulating religious speech are primers on education law as it relates to these hot topics and could easily be used as case examples in higher education law courses. The chapter about enhancing classroom learning by Patton et al. is excellent and clearly explains the ways in which students experience microaggressions in classrooms, calling out not only behavioral experiences, but also curriculum, faculty expectations, course content, and reading selections. The authors describe four pedagogical approaches (critical race pedagogy, social justice education, inclusive pedagogy, and culturally responsive teaching) that can be adopted to improve classrooms for minoritized students, using concrete examples that will be helpful to faculty. Overall, the chapters in this section challenge colleges and universities to look beyond what is politically correct in order to assess how effectively they serve students, encouraging leaders to make changes from the top.
Section Four focuses on research programs and initiatives that help institutions take action toward achieving equity and inclusion. Of particular interest are the two chapters that study the unique position of chief diversity officer in both higher education systems and individual campuses. These chapters are important contributions as there is little research on the chief diversity officer position, and student affairs professionals need to think critically about these positions and how they relate to their own work in higher education. Another chapter reflects on a century of black fraternities and sororities, highlighting the important role they play in the retention of African American students by providing a place that feels like home and facilitating a sense of belonging at PWIs, while also discussing the complicated history of pledging and hazing.
Section five focuses on professional and personal development, covering a wide selection of issues facing student affairs professionals. Chapters on identity and becoming a social justice educator explore the impact of professional associations, mentors, and role models. Two chapters aptly convey the differing experiences of practitioners and faculty, with insight into the difficulty of becoming a scholar-practitioner and how promotion and tenure pressures affect facultys ability to enact changes to better support students. The final chapter presents a creative professional development model for administrators of color and examples of its implementation at a variety of universities.
As student affairs professionals, we can attest to the usefulness of the volume in the development of programs and professional development activities. In addition to illustrating the legacy of Dr. Terrells career, the chapters shed light on the realities of higher education institutions across the country and transparently suggest ways to promote effective learning experiences and environments that support the retention and success of students of color. The authors throughout this volume call on higher education and its leaders to take up the legacy of Dr. Terrell by taking bold measures to make institutions of higher education more equitable and inclusive for students who have historically not found those environments to be so. In the epilogue written by Dr. Terrell himself, he quotes a Xhosa proverb that means a person is a person through persons (p. 415), using it to demonstrate that the work of his career was only made possible through those who have guided him and those he guided. This is an appropriate message with which to conclude the Festschrift that celebrates his career, and is also an important message to student affairs professionals, reminding them that their own success depends on the impact they make on all students.